A visit to the Diageo Archives and Liquid Library

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

One of the things I love about my job is getting to go behind the scenes and visit food & drink related places that are not usually accessible to joe public. It's like when they used to take you through the round window in Playschool - only better. A visit to the Diageo Archives a couple of weeks ago was possibly the best one yet. To be honest I really didn't know quite what to expect. The invitation from Tanqueray and Diageo invited me to join an exclusive visit to the Liquid Library in Scotland for an afternoon of Curious Gin Tales and an exciting opportunity to try the 4th limited edition Tanqueray Gin variant, revived from Charles Tanqueray's 19th century recipe book. How could I possibly refuse such a delightful Ginvitation?

A magical mystery bus trip took us from central Edinburgh to the Diageo Spirits global drinks archive in Menstrie near Stirling. Our bus conductor and tour guide was Stephanie Jordan, Tanqueray's Global Brand Ambassador. Upon entering the rather unassuming Archive building we were greeted by Diageo Historian (aka Ginstorian) Joanne Mckercher who led us through to the Liquid Library. I'm pretty sure my mouth dropped open and my eyeballs popped out on stalks cartoon stylee. My mind was completely blown. I really didn't know where to look first. The library comprises of over 5000 bottles of spirits spectacularly housed in climate controlled cabinets overlooked by crystal decanter light shades. It was like an exquisite art instillation. The shelves were lined with all the iconic Diageo brands - Johnnie Walker, Tanqueray, Baileys, Bell's, Gordon's, Smirnoff, Pimm's and more. I've always loved food, social and domestic history (secretly wish I was Ruth Goodman) and absolutely adore packaging design so with a glass of Tanqueray and Tonic in hand I was in absolute heaven.

Everywhere I looked there was something new to catch my attention. It was fascinating to see how bottle designs and packaging have evolved over the years. Whilst of course I zoned in on the Tanqueray and Gordon's Gin I was also fascinated by nostalgic parts of my early drinking years - yup Archers Peach Schnapps and Smirnoff Ice I'm talking about you! Bailey's is another of my favourite tipples and although the majority of items in the collection are full bottles, the creamy drinks have to be removed (perhaps a job I could volunteer to assist with?!) The empty bottles of Sheridan's looked particularly sad. The cabinets are controlled for optimum temperature and air humidity and there's no need for any feather dusters as all the dust magically gets extracted. It was surprised to see that what we tend to think of as modern innovations today are clearly nothing new. Gordon's began production of a 'Ready-to-Serve' Shaker Cocktail range in 1924 and released an Orange Gin in 1929 and a Lemon one in 1931. 

The oldest bottle in the archive dates from the 1880's and is a bottle of Johnnie Walker which contains a snake - but no one knows why! Whilst the Liquid Library is undoubtedly the showcase of the collection, much like an iceberg there is a further 90% below the surface. Over half a million items of drinks heritage are contained in three huge stores where they are all meticulously catalogued. We had to finish our G&T's before heading to the next part of the tour to learn more about Diageo’s two most iconic Gin brands - Tanqueray and Gordon’s. First a whistlestop tour through the history of Gin encompassing the London Gin Craze and US Prohibition. Gordon's was first produced in 1769 and has been the UK's number one gin since the late 19th century. Tanqueray has been distilled since 1830 and dominates the US market. In 1898 Charles Tanqueray & Company merged with Alexander Gordon & Company to from the inimitable Tanqueray Gordon & Co. Since Charles Gordon's death in 1899 the Gordon family connection survives in name only. However on the Tanqueray side one of the gems in the collection is Charles Tanqueray’s journal. This contains recipes for gin, boot polish, animal medicines and saddle cleaners! No photographs allowed of this precious artifact although I reckon most people would struggle to decipher the handwriting let alone recreate the gin recipes. 

The archive is very much a working resource rather than a dusty historical museum. Part of our invitation had offered the tantalising opportunity to try some recreated variants from the archives. Gavin and Ken from the Innovation centre presided over the tasting of two top secret recreated Gins whilst we were treated to an abundance of cheese and charcuterie. Not sure there could possibly be a better way to spend a Friday afternoon! This is the kind of library I most definitely need a card for. Although I suspect I may be liable to extensive fines for overdue bottles and that my excited squeals at discovering something new would require continuous shh-ing. 

Undoubtedly my favourite piece of ephemera was The Cocktail Chorus. This dates from the 1930s and was produced by Gordon’s to allow their consumers to host the best cocktail parties at home. You spin the centre of the record to select your cocktail and the ingredients and measurements are revealed in the notes. I shall leave you with it's instructions. Clearly Cocktails were a serious business long before today's hipsters got involved...

Some fatal day you will be called upon to mix a cocktail. Your social prestige will totter in the balance. Will you plunge into the abyss or will you meet the situation with knowledge, power and a masterly hand? 
You will be doomed to a life of perennial wallflowerhood if you confess ignorance of the cocktail. And no fit punishment has yet been even dreamed for that rash soul who mixes cocktails badly. But you will be looked upon as a man apart, a man of the hour, a superman if you can produce a cocktail worthy of that honoured name. 

www.foodiequine.co.uk A visit to the Diageo Archives and Liquid Library of 5000+ bottles of spirits, Menstrie Scotland. Discovering the history of Tanqueray & Gordon's Gin.

Disclosure: I visited the Liquid Library as a guest of Tanqueray and Diageo. As always, all views expressed are my own. 

Tomato, Black Olive and Goat Cheese Galette

Thursday, 20 April 2017
Post in collaboration with Scotty Brand

A wonderful rustic style vegetarian tart which showcases Scottish tomatoes to perfection. Flaky puff pastry combines with sweet tomatoes, goats' cheese, olives and thyme for a simple yet showstopping seasonal supper.

Today's recipe is one that is a particular pleasure to share with you as it champions an initiative to bring back Scottish tomatoes to the commercial growing market. It may surprise you to learn that Scotland was once a tomato-growing force to be reckoned with but over the years the previously thriving industry fell into decline. Scotty Brand have been behind the drive to resurrect Scottish tomatoes and welcome them back to their product range this Spring. Their tomatoes are grown at Standhill Farm near Hawick in the Scottish Borders where Scotty Brand have been working with farmer Jim Shanks since last summer to overcome the various challenges of commercially growing the crop in Scotland. The Scottish climate does have its advantages too, as the tomatoes ripen at a slower rate than those grown in more southern climates, resulting in a sweeter and tastier crop.

Originally purely a dairy farm, Standhill has diversified to become the only commercial grower of Scottish tomatoes. A bespoke state of the art greenhouse has been build to house and grow the crop. Covering around 15 thousand square metres (approximately the size of two and a half football pitches) the glasshouse is fully sustainable:

  • Water for the tomatoes comes from rainwater falling on the roof.
  • The CO2 to encourage plant growth is a by-product of the farm’s own biogas plant (generating gas from cow muck!)
  • Electricity likewise comes from biogas.
  • Heat comes from an ultra-efficient wood-chip burner which is fuelled by wood from the farm and surrounding area.
  • The glasshouse is equipped with thermal screens both to preserve heat and, occasionally, to reduce the heat of the Scottish sun.
  • Pollination is carried out by bees especially brought into the glasshouse.

Double Michelin-starred chef Andrew Fairlie celebrated the return of Scotty Brand tomatoes by visiting the Border’s farm and being one of the first to cook and taste the tomatoes. Alas I was setting sail on my Edible Shetland Adventures on the day of the event and couldn't be in two places at once so missed out on what was a superb tomato based lunch. Speaking at the event Andrew said: “Scotland was once famous for growing tomatoes and I am delighted to see the industry back in production. What makes Scotty Brand tomatoes especially attractive to me is that they’re locally grown in such an environmentally-friendly and sustainable way, which is very much the way the market is going.”

Scotty Brand Tomatoes are available instore now at all Lidl stores in Scotland, Wholefoods, and selected Scottish Morrison and Waitrose stores until early November. There are two varieties:
  • 240g Annamay Cocktail – sweet and juicy golf ball sized tomatoes, left on the vine for maximum ripeness and flavour
  • 250g Sweetelle Baby Plum - small snacking tomatoes, slightly longer and more oval than a cherry tomato, very sweet, firm and juicy
Do track some down - I promise you can really taste the difference. (But PLEASE don't keep them in the fridge!) The smell of tomatoes as you open the pack is mesmerising and took me straight back to my Granda Monearn's small greenhouse when I was a child. And the flavour is just how tomatoes used to - and should - taste.

Tomato, Black Olive and Goat Cheese Galette

375g Pack Ready Rolled Puff Pastry
1 x 240g Pack Scotty Brand Scottish Tomatoes Cocktail Variety
1 Clove Garlic, Crushed
1 tsp Smoked Paprika
75g Black Olives (50g halved, 25g whole)
Fresh Thyme
Salt & Pepper
1 x 250g Pack Scotty Brand Scottish Tomatoes Baby Plum Variety
125g Soft Goats' Cheese
1 Free Range Egg, Beaten

Preheat oven to 200c
Unroll the puff pastry onto a large baking sheet.
Roughly chop up the cocktail tomatoes. Place them in a bowl and add the crushed garlic, smoked paprika, halved olives and the leaves from a couple of sprigs of thyme. Season well with salt and pepper and mix thoroughly.
Use a slotted spoon to transfer the tomato mixture onto the middle of the puff pastry leaving a 5cm strip all the way round.
Crumble the goats cheese into chunks and cut the baby plum tomatoes into halves.
Nestle the cheese, whole olives and halved tomatoes on top of the tomato base.
Fold in the pastry sides to form the galette and brush with beaten egg.
Bake for around 20 minutes, or until the pastry has puffed up and turned golden and the goats cheese has gratinated.

Serve garnished with a couple of extra sprigs of fresh thyme. 

For further seasonal tomato inspiration check out these delicious recipes from some of my food blogging colleagues

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www.foodiequine.co.uk A wonderful rustic style vegetarian tart which showcases Scottish tomatoes to perfection. Flaky puff pastry combines with sweet tomatoes, goats' cheese, olives and thyme for a simple yet showstopping seasonal supper.

Disclosure: This is a commissioned recipe for Scotty Brand. As always, all views expressed are my own. 
Thank you for supporting the brands who make it possible for me to continue to share my Edible Scottish Adventures with you. I’m super choosy and promise to bring you only the cream of the crop.

Baxters Souper Swap Challenge

Wednesday, 19 April 2017
Post in collaboration with Baxters

I'm pretty much always up for a foodie related challenge so when Baxter's got in touch and asked if I'd be interested in participating in their Souper Swap, I licked my lips and looked out my tin opener in anticipation. Turns out the tin opener wasn't required - their cans all have a ring pull - bonus! The general premise was that I swap my usual lunchtime sandwich for a can of Baxters Hearty or Vegetarian soup for a week. Cutting down on calories and ticking off up to three of my five a day. Surely a win win situation!

I have a great fondness for Baxters products and have visited their factory in and Visitor Centre in Fochabers on many occasions. One of which was a field trip with my O Grade Economics class! It's located midway between my home in Aberdeenshire and my parents home on The Black Isle so is often a halfway meeting or stop off point. The cafe does amazing enormous pancakes which you absolutely must try if you ever visit. My Dad always opts for their Cullen Skink and their Royal Game Soup is the stuff of legends! For this challenge I was trying out a selection from both their Hearty and Vegetarian ranges. 

Day 1 - Hearty Butternut Squash, Sweet Potato, Chilli and Lime - GF & V, 232 kcal
For my first lunch I opted for what sounded like would be one of my favourites - only time would tell! It was definitely hearty - I realised half way through it's 3 minutes in the microwave that there was still some stuck in the bottom of the can. Butternut Squash and Sweet Potato are such great soup making ingredients. In this variant protein is added by way of Butter, Haricot and Edamame beans. Counting as 3 of your 5 a day (although it's now 10...) it also contains carrots, onions, celery and peppers. You really do taste the zingyness of the lime along with a wee touch of chilli. For my palate it was under-seasoned and I needed to add salt.


Day 2 - Hearty Tomato, Chorizio & Mixed Bean - GF, 228 kcal
Today's soup could almost be described as a bean stew it was so thick. This time I used a spatula to make sure all the contents had left the can. Pimto, Haricot and Kidney beans are combined with tomatoes, carrots, onions, celery and leek to provide a source of protein and 3 of your 10 a day. The Chorizo adds a fantastic depth of flavour but the actual pieces are disappointingly small. I reckon it would have worked just as well using Smoked Paprika and keeping the recipe vegetarian. A couple of cans would definitely make a great base for a casserole with chicken and cooking chorizo. 

Day 3 - Vegetarian Carrot & Butterbean - GF & V, 230 kcal
Thinner in consistency than the previous two I felt an oatcake was required alongside as it was rather a light lunch on it's own. Tasty (although I needed to add salt and pepper) but probably not one I'd choose again as there are more exciting soup flavour combinations that I'd opt for. Only two of your 10 a day in this one but like all of the others so far it is Gluten Free. 

Day 4 - Hearty Chicken & Country Vegetable - GF, 184 kcal
To be honest I wasn't expecting much of this one but was pleasantly surprised. Nice chunky vegetables - primarily carrots and potatoes but also sweetcorn and leeks. Not much to be found in the way of actual chicken but a really tasty soup. I was converted with this one. Again I added seasoning to my own taste. 

Day 5 - Vegetarian Minestorne with Wholemeal Pasta - V, 160 kcal
Not sure if it was a good move but I kept my least favourite until last. I'm not a fan of Minestrone and us such its not something I would ever choose to eat and I'm afraid that this one didn't convert me. I added some chopped chorizio to pimp it up a wee bit but of the five this one scored the lowest for me. 

I thoroughly enjoyed my week of liquid lunches (of a soupy nature!) They definitely kept me full, I didn't have to think about what I was going to have and in terms of price at a rrp of between £1.10 and £1.49 per can they beat a shop bought sandwich or meal deal hands down. Baxters have created a fun quiz to find out what your lunch says about you and recommend a soup based on your answers. My result is below and I reckon it's pretty spot on! Take the quiz at www.souperswapquiz.com

You are a Perfectionist! Why not try Baxters Smoked Bacon and Three Bean Soup?
You have high expectations of yourself and of others and you like to do the best you can at everything you do. Your motto is ‘if it’s worth doing it’s worth doing well’ and you always go the extra mile to ensure that you have done your very best. This often means working late or spending hours perfecting a project but it’s worth it, knowing that you have given it your best shot. Sometimes, your desire to get things right can leave you little time for other things but the payoff is the satisfaction from a job well done.

Disclosure: This is a commissioned post for Baxters. As always, all views expressed are my own.
Thank you for supporting the brands who make it possible for me to continue to share my Edible Scottish Adventures with you. I’m super choosy who I work with and promise to only ever bring you the cream of the crop.

Happy Easter Smoothies

Saturday, 15 April 2017
Post in collaboration with Iceland Foods

Healthy Easter treats that taste as good as they look. Easter craft and food combine in these oh so cute, delicious and nutritious fruit and vegetable smoothies. Perfect for Easter breakfast or brunch and the ideal antidote to all those Chocolate Easter Eggs! Great fun to make for or with kids this Easter.

Happy Easter Smoothies

Chocolate, hot cross buns, chocolate, roast lamb, chocolate, simnel cake, chocolate... Easter is second perhaps only to Christmas as far as feasting dates go. Like so many holiday occasions it can be somewhat of an overindulgence when it comes to eating, drinking and being merry. All of a sudden chocolate becomes acceptable at pretty much any time of the day! As an antidote to all of the above today I'm sharing a fab selection of Fruit & Vegetable Smoothies. For the Easter Bank Holiday weekend my friends at Iceland foods asked me to come up with a recipe with the theme 'Easter Fun – Foods that aren’t what you think they are'. The only stipulation was that I had to include frozen fruit and vegetables and that my end product should be creatively presented to look like something else. I reckon that I've hit the nail firmly on the head with this one!

The bank holiday weekend is set to be a proper scorcher so the #PowerOfFrozen will help you to keep cool, calm and collected. Frozen food can really take the strain off at seasonal get togethers and give you more time to spend with family and friends rather than slaving over a hot stove. Iceland have got everything instore that you'll need for Easter from roasting joints to trimmings and showstopping desserts to award winning hot cross buns. I always have a selection of their frozen fruit and vegetables to hand in my freezer. They are so convenient, avoid waste and are just perfect to help aim towards the new 10 a day guidelines. Freezing fruit and veg at the seasonal peak of perfection locks in the freshness until you're ready to use them, keeping them at their most appetising and nutritious. I love the convenience of Iceland's individual smoothie portion packs and we had great fun using them along with frozen rasps and baby carrots to come up with our Happy Easter Smoothies.

First you'll need to make your Chick, Lamb and Bunny drinking receptacles. I used mini glass milkbottles but you could use regular glasses or disposable plastic tumblers. You'll need to raid your craft box and/or buy a couple of cheap (should that be cheep?!) kids Easter craft packs at the supermarket or pound shop. I am SO not a craft blogger so if I can make these anyone can!

You will need...
  • Glue (I used a hot glue gun)
  • Googly Eyes and/or Sharpie Pens
  • Feathers
  • Pipe Cleaners
  • Coloured Felt or Cardboard
  • Cotton Wool Balls
  • Straws to serve
Easter Lamb - cotton wool balls plus two threaded through straws, googly or drawn on eyes, felt/cardboard nose & mouth.
Easter Chick - googly or drawn on eyes, felt/cardboard comb and beak, feathers, cardboard feet.
Easter Bunny - googly or drawn on eyes, felt/cardboard nose, pipe cleaner whiskers and ears, cotton wool ball tail.

Easter Lamb - Banana, Kale, Mango and Honey Smoothie
...this green thickie is baa-rilliant

1 x 150g Sachet Iceland Banana, Kale and Mango Smoothie Mix
200ml Natural Skyr (or yoghurt)
100ml Milk
1 Tbsp Runny Honey

Put the ingredients in a blender and blitz until smooth.
Pour into a Lamb and enjoy.

Easter Chick - Pineapple, Papaya and Carrot Smoothie 
...let me see you shake your tail feather

1 x 150g Sachet Iceland Pineapple, Papaya and Carrot Smoothie Mix

250ml Apple Juice

Put the ingredients in a blender and blitz until smooth.

Pour into a Chick and enjoy.

Easter Bunny - Raspberry, Carrot, Orange and Maple Syrup Smoothie

...who loves Iceland's Baby Carrots as much as we do? The Easter Bunny!

100g Iceland Frozen Raspberries

50g Iceland Baby Carrots

300ml Orange Juice

1 Tbsp Maple Syrup

Put the ingredients in a blender and blitz until smooth.
Pour into a Bunny and enjoy.

Happy Easter Smoothies

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Easter craft and food combine in these oh so cute fruit and vegetable smoothies. Perfect for Easter breakfast or brunch and the ideal antidote to all those Chocolate Easter Eggs!

Disclosure: This is a commissioned recipe for Iceland Foods. As always, all views expressed are my own. 
Thank you for supporting the brands who make it possible for me to continue to share my Edible Scottish Adventures with you. I’m super choosy and promise to bring you only the cream of the crop.

Edible Shetland Adventures with Northlink Ferries - Lerwick

Thursday, 13 April 2017
Post in collaboration with Northlink Ferries

A four day break in Shetland, Scotland's most northerly Island archipelago. Sailing from Aberdeen to Lerwick with Northlink Ferries. Day 1 - Bagpipes, settling into our accommodation and finding our feet in Lerwick.

We've not long returned from a fantastic 5 night/4 day trip to Shetland. I'd actually visited once before but couldn't quite remember when. Foodie Loon recalled that the film showing in the cinema on the ferry had been Erin Brockovich which places our visit in 2000. A whole 17 years ago. Pretty much all I remember of the trip was the rough crossing and the inside of a variety of bars in Lerwick. In my defence the reason behind our visit had been to catch up with a friend from Uni. Fast forward to an offer from Northlink Ferries for us to explore the Island as a family on a mini break in the Easter holidays. Suffice to say I jumped at the opportunity. First port of call when it came to planning our Shetland Adventure was my friend Elizabeth - the UK's most Northerly food blogger - who lives in Shetland and blogs at Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary. I asked if she could perhaps suggest a plan for our 4 days on the Island, I had a wee bit of an idea of what I wanted to do but didn't really know enough about what was where to come up with a coherent schedule. Elizabeth totally excelled herself with a comprehensive 4 day itinerary encompassing everything we wanted to do and more, plus a host of foodie recommendations along the way. She's a girl after my own heart! But first we had to get there and that meant the overnight ferry from Aberdeen to Lerwick.

The MV Hrossey (the Old Norse name for Orkney) set sail at 19.00 and we boarded with our car around 17:30. The whole check in process was quick and easy. We were given our boarding cards which also acted as room keys for our inside 4 berth cabin. After driving onto the car deck we took our ourselves and our overnight bag up to the passenger deck and went to check out our accommodation. Our cabin was modern, clean and well equipped with en-suite toilet and shower facilities and a tea/coffee station. There were 2 lower fixed berths and two pull down bunks accessed by a ladder, thankfully the kids quickly claimed the top bunks! In addition to cabins there are also lower cost options such as reclining seats, sleeper pods and a cabin share scheme. Part of our ticket included access to the Magnus Lounge. All of us were really impressed with this facility and when we weren't asleep in our cabin we spent the majority of our time here. Entry to the lounge includes complimentary tea, coffee, soft drinks, snacks and two vouchers per person for alcoholic drinks. There are newspapers and magazines, board games, plenty of sockets to charge electricals, exclusive use toilets, the option of table service for dinner and a complimentary continental breakfast on arrival into Aberdeen or Lerwick. Personally I wouldn't hesitate to book this facility on any subsequent crossings.

Whilst I enjoyed a Shetland Reel Gin & Tonic and Foodie Loon quaffed a pint of Valhalla Beer a plan was hatched. I've mentioned before that I have two Pipers and one Drummer in the family, one of which is due to be piping in Singapore at the end of the month for a boat launch (an Oil Industry Floating Production Storage and Offloading vessel not a Ferry!). Because of this he'd brought along his bagpipes to practise on holiday. Much to my daughter's horror and disgust he asked at reception if could pipe the ferry out of Aberdeen Harbour. The captain was duly contacted and agreed with the proviso that he didn't go on the upper deck as off duty staff were sleeping in adjacent cabins. There's no access to car decks during sailings and the doors had already been locked but he was allowed back to the car to retrieve his pipes. By this point Foodie Girl had completely disowned her Dad and couldn't actually believe that he was going to go ahead with it! He managed to cause a bit of a stir both on the ferry and on social media - as is my want I was Tweeting, Instagram Story-ing and Facebook Live-ing throughout.

After all the excitement for some - and mortification for others - it was time for dinner. I was really impressed with the menu and the inclusion of so many products and producers local to Orkney, Shetland and Aberdeen. Between us we enjoyed Cream of Haggis Soup, Deep Fried Local Cheese with Island Chutney, Orkney Haggis Pakora followed by Orkney Pork & Leek Sausage Casserole and Orkney Beef Viking Burger. It would have been rude not to have left enough space for some Orkney Fudge Cheesecake for dessert!

A good sleep was had by all and we headed to the Magnus Lounge for our Continental Breakfast before disembarking from the ferry at 07:30. Our accommodation for 3 nights in Lerwick was provided by Self Catering Shetland who have nine fully furnished apartments available for let. Owner Steve was waiting for us at the terminal and we followed him to Corbie, a ground floor flat in the heart of the town. We quickly settled in following a rather heated argument about who got the single and who got the double bed. (Girl won with the flip of a coin!). Corbie is the Shetland dialect word for Raven and it really was a 'home from home'. There were lots of lovely Shetland heritage touches and the kitchen in particular was superbly kitted out. I reckon I could have cooked or baked pretty much anything had I wanted to! All the basics were provided such as tea, coffee, milk, salt & pepper, herbs & spices, washing up liquid, dish towels, kitchen roll, toilet roll, dishwasher tablets etc. Pretty much everything had been thought of - including wifi. One of my favourite touches, which I haven't come across anywhere else was a Walkers Backpack. This contained a couple of large Thermos flasks, tupperware sandwich boxes and a selection of leaflets and OS maps. Owners Gillian & Steve Henry were friendly and helpful and popped in on our first and last day to make sure all was well and answer any questions. 

Time to get out and about and explore a wee bit of Lerwick on our own before meeting up with Elizabeth for lunch. Lerwick is the capital of Shetland (it's only town) and is home to 7500 people. The old town centre consists of narrow streets and a network of steep lanes and staircases. Shops range from small specialist gift shops and cafes to larger traditional stores which appear to stock anything and everything. The majority are independently owned and (to the visitor) there is a refreshing lack of high street names. We spent a couple of hours browsing but I made the mistake of not actually purchasing any souvenirs thinking I could do this on our last day. Big mistake. Absolutely nothing is open on a Sunday. The Shetland Museum and Archives is outstanding and I couldn't believe that it was free to visit. It covers the history of the island geographically and socially. We explored the ground floor before lunch and returned to complete the upper floor on Sunday afternoon. Also worth a visit is the cafe nextdoor in Arts venue Mareel. Lunch was at The Peerie Shop Cafe and by the power of Twitter I'd asked earlier in the week if their famous Reestit Mutton and Tattie Soup might be on the menu and I was delighted to find that it was. With full bellies it was time for a tour led by Elizabeth. 

This took us through old Lerwick, around the Knab and the Sletts to the Clickimin Broch. Much excitement from me at the first of our stopping points the home of DI Jimmy Perez from the BBC TV drama Shetland. I'm now going to have to watch the first three series again to spot all of the locations. As a family we've recently been caught by the Geocashing bug so took the opportunity to bag some caches as part of our walking tour. Under Elizabeths expert eye we were rather successful with the exception of a frustrating DNF at The Knab. Our rather blustery coastal walk ended at the rather spectacular Clickimin Broch

Beaten by the wind we headed to Fjara Cafe Bar to warm up with Hot Chocolate, Coffee and Cake. The plan for the evening had been for the kids to go swimming at the Clickimin Leisure Centre and to return to Fjara for dinner. The swimming pool got a huge thumbs up from the teen and tween and they returned for a second visit later on in the week, but alas we clearly should have booked for dinner as there were no tables available for walk ins. Slightly disappointed we opted for a supermarket meal deal back at Corbie and an early night ready for more Shetland Adventures on Day 2 when we headed even further north to Yell and Unst. Day 3 took us to St Ninian's Beach and the South Mainland and Day 4 to Northmavine. Those will follow in a subsequent post but for now I'll fast forward to our journey homeward on the ferry.

Much to Foodie Girl's relief it was raining heavily as we boarded the homeward ferry so Dad's bagpipes stayed firmly locked in the car boot. This time it was the MV Hjaltland (the Old Norse name for Shetland) which appeared to be pretty much identical in layout to the Hrossey so we had no problem in finding our way around particularly as we had exactly the same cabin number as for the outward leg of our trip. The Magnus Lounge was again at our disposal and we enjoyed Locally caught fillet of Haddock and Chips, Roast Shetland Lamb and an absolutely amazing tub of Lemon Curd Orkney Ice Cream. The children's meals onboard come in super cute Ferry meal boxes. I may have misappropriated one for my own use #AllAboardTheProseccoBoat But with the amount of interaction it received on social media I reckon Northlink could easily sell grown up versions filled with drinks and nibbles. The crossing was rather rougher this time round and sickbags were required by one member of the party. For some reason the sailing from Lerwick to Aberdeen is half an hour quicker (perhaps because it's downhill?!) and we arrived into the harbour at 07:00. We all thoroughly enjoyed our Edible Shetland Adventure and you can read about part two in my follow up post Unst, South Mainland and Northmavine

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www.foodiequine.co.uk A four day break in Shetland, Scotland's most northerly Island archipelago. Sailing from Aberdeen to Lerwick with Northlink Ferries. Day 1 - Bagpipes, settling into our accommodation and finding our feet in Lerwick.

Linking up to Family Travel Tips and Get Gone

Disclosure: We sailed and stayed as guests of Northlink Ferries and Self Catering Shetland. As always, all views expressed are my own. 

Thank you for supporting the brands who make it possible for me to continue to share my Edible Scottish Adventures with you. I’m super choosy and promise to bring you only the cream of the crop.

Salmon Filo en Croûte - only 5 ingredients!

Monday, 10 April 2017
Post in collaboration with Thermapen

A show stopping dish for Good Friday this Salmon filo en croûte is super quick and easy to make with only 5 ingredients. Ensure your Salmon is cooked to perfection this Easter with a Superfast Thermapen thermometer.

Can you believe it’s almost Easter? The year is just flying past and it really doesn't seem all that long ago that we were celebrating Christmas! This year I'm planning on Roast Beef for our Easter Sunday lunch. Whilst many of us will automatically think of serving Lamb - it’s somewhat intrinsically intertwined in our minds along with chicks, eggs, bunnies and chocolate - historically lambs are bred in the spring rather than eaten then. As such a newly born spring lamb may look cute but it won't be ready to roast until the Autumn so not quite as seasonal as you might think. If you fancy joining me with Easter Roast Beef do check out my recipe for Spring Roast of Scotch Beef with a Wild Garlic Pesto Crust.

Just like Christmas, in addition to the big day itself, there is the run up and the post script. Yup I'm talking about you Good Friday and Easter Monday. In the Catholic faith, Good Friday is a day of fasting. Because Christ sacrificed His flesh on Good Friday, Catholics abstain from eating flesh (meat) and instead eat fish. This religious practice has become an Easter tradition with many of us choosing fish as the 'dish of the day' on Good Friday. When it comes to fish I’m a complete sucker for salmon (25 ideas right here!) Combine it with pastry and you have instant success. In addition to only having five ingredients, my version of Salmon en croute is healthier than the traditional. Filo immediately cut calories in comparison to puff, you can substitute low cal spray oil for butter and when it comes to cream cheese use a light version. That way you can save all those calories for chocolate Easter eggs! 

Whatever you choose to eat this Easter make sure that it is cooked to perfection with the aid of the British made Superfast Thermapen thermometer. I really cannot recommend it enough (I even bought one for my Mum!) it’s one of my absolute kitchen essentials. I wouldn’t cook a steak without it and when the weather gets warmer it’s an absolute barbecue essential. It takes out all the guesswork when it comes to rare/medium/well done and avoids anxiety about BBQ food safety. It’s also great for jam making, sugar and chocolate work, deep fat frying and more. If you need an exact temperature to achieve a perfect result it will give you a reliable reading in just 3 seconds. My left handed BBQ geek teenage son absolutely loves it as it has an auto-rotating display that can be used in any position in either hand plus an intelligent backlit display which senses darkness self illuminates. The Thermapen ideal when it comes to en croûte and unless you have x-ray vision there's no way of telling if the salmon inside the pastry parcel is over or undercooked. When it comes to fish the magic number you are looking for is 60c.

5 Ingredient Salmon Filo en Croûte

4 Salmon Fillets, skin removed
240g Fresh Spinach
175g Soft Cream Cheese with Garlic & Herbs
4 sheets Filo Pastry
50g Butter, melted (or spray oil)
Salt and Pepper

Preheat the oven to 190c
Cook the spinach in the microwave or a pan according to the packet instructions. Allow to cool, drain well and squeeze out any excess moisture really well before roughly chopping.
Put the cream cheese in a bowl add the spinach and season well with Salt & Pepper. Mix thoroughly.
Lay two slightly overlapping sheets of filo on a baking sheet and spray with oil or brush with melted butter. Lay another two sheets of pastry on top in the opposite direction to form a cross. Brush/spray with butter/oil.
Place the four salmon fillets adjacent to each other in the middle of the pastry cross.
Spread the spinach and cheese mixture on top of the salmon.
Fold in the pastry to form a parcel and scrunch it up on the top. Spay/brush again with oil/butter.
Bake for 15 minutes, then cover with tin foil to avoid the thin filo pastry burning. Return to the oven for a further 15 minutes or until the temperature reaches 60c on your Thermapen Superfast Thermometer.

If you want the perfect Lamb dish this Easter take a look at my 7 Hour Spiced Pulled Leg of Lamb and Bintu's Roast Harissa Lamb with Harissa Apricot Stuffing. Both cooked to perfection with Thermapen.

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www.foodiequine.co.uk A show stopping dish for Good Friday this lighter version of Salmon en croûte is super quick and easy to make with only 5 ingredients. Ensure your Filo Pastry Wrapped Salmon is cooked to perfection this Easter with a Superfast Thermapen thermometer.

Disclosure: This is a commissioned recipe for Thermapen. As always, all views expressed are my own.
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